Blogs I Follow
- the urban kit
- Find your audience. tell your story.
- Mike Powell
- Bible Drift
- Storytime with John
- Great Books of the Western World
- Bible on Tap
- Trevor Nashleanas
- Joelinda | C | Johnson
- Captain's Photo Blog
- Unquiet Time
- Life of Yan ♥
- Cristian Mihai
- Wilma's Keeper
- September 2016
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- December 2014
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- October 2014
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- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
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- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- October 2012
- April 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
Now, before 12 months ago, this was not a political issue. We did not have politicians who fundamentally misunderstood foreign policy, immigration procedures or the difference between immigrants and refugees. Today in our mess of a political season, everything is politicized, even the least controversial, bi-partisan issues have become wedges: i.e. refugees.
Just as a little primer, immigrants are not refugees per se. Immigrants are just people that leave one country and enter another, legally or illegally, they are just in a new place.
Refugees are completely different. Because of war, violence, threats or discrimination refugees literally have no place where they can safely go. Their homes have been destroyed by war or their home is in a war zone. 60 million people in the world have been displaced within their own country and are living in camps in their own nation with no place to go. 22 million people worldwide are refugees and they have no country to go to. They come from places with years and decades long conflicts that have rendered their homes unlivable, with no end in sight.
Caring for refugees is not a legal issue, it is an irrefutable moral obligation of the international community to care for the least of these, the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. This is the golden rule at its simplest. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is literally no option. For westerners who are Christians, Jesus says this is how you know if you’re a part of his kingdom, did you take care of people without homes (Matt. 25). If you don’t care deeply for refugees and the most vulnerable you are simply not a follower of Jesus.
Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism all have similar commands to care for the vulnerable, orphans and widows.
The 75,000 refugees that America resettled last year is a mere pittance of the need worldwide(Germany took several hundred thousand).
The president sets the number of refugees that will be allowed in our country in a given year. Let that inform your voting this season. Hundreds of thousands of people’s lives are hanging in the balance.
Here is a place to start:
And a great organization I support myself:
I sit waiting by a place called beautiful.
Looking for relief, a little help
just a little fix to get me by.
Two guys walk up,
radiant with love,
looked me in the eyes
and gave me everything I ever wanted.
Then we danced.
It’s not often you have a chance to say goodbye to your friends, and they’ll sit and listen to you talk for 35 minutes….but I had a patient congregation. Here are my parting words to the congregation that God has gathered at Grace Chapel Watertown. We’re going to miss our family there.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9 “Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
It is a season of transition, for me, for my family, for my ministry. And transitions are a time that naturally lend themselves to reflection, to consider what has happened, what it means and what part it plays in the next steps of our journey.
Malia and I have invested the last six years of our lives in the Boston area, at first to go to seminary and work with Cru, and we ended up staying around to have a family and serve with Grace Chapel. We’ve only attended one church the whole time we have been in Massachusetts. Grace Chapel. And it has made all the difference.
As we prepared to embark for Boston the summer of 2010, we were both limping spiritually. It had been a heart wrenching couple of years of picking up the pieces of our walk with God after watching the church of my youth implode around our family. When I arrived at seminary, to ostensibly prepare for a lifetime of ministry, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attend a local church, let alone lead one.
We were hurt, afraid and unsure that God could work through a church in such a way that they were healthy, loving and loved God. But, God had a plan in all of it. He was working in the background to prepare the way.
I had known from the time that I was 18 that I was called to be a pastor, but my Dad was a pastor so I knew it was an awful job/career. I needed healing and restoration and a new vision for ministry and life. I didn’t know that was what I needed, but God did.
When we arrived in MA we knew like 4 people and they all went to a church (Grace Chapel) that was a 35 minute drive from where we lived, but we thought that having people that you loved at your church was probably more important than the location. We had heard that Grace Chapel was planning to start a satellite campus in the community that we were launching a high school outreach in, so we jumped in with both feet.
Best decision we ever made without having any idea how important it would be.
I could gush about my church, the relationships, the leadership, the people, the worship, but I will try to be restrained for the sake of your time, but here are a few of the reasons that I am thankful for Grace Chapel where I have served on staff the last 3+ years.
A Healthy Culture
After the implosion of my child hood church in my early 20’s, I wasn’t sure I thought church could work, that people were too broken to trust as a second family, that the institution would always come before people. I was wrong. I’ve seen a couple of places. One was the church that we landed at in Boise, Bread of Life before we moved to Boston, and Grace Chapel.
Grace seems to always put people before policies, before institution, before ministry. People are front and center, and not just the idea of people but actual people, broken people, hard people, all people. I saw this in their care for staff and staff families, and most notably in the pastoral care that was offered to people who were even nominally connected with Grace.
Three years ago this month I was installed as the Pastor of the nascent Watertown congregation. I honestly could not have told you where it was or that it existed before the marathon bombings two months earlier, and now it will always be a part of me. Grace Chapel gave me the amazing opportunity to launch, lead, pastor and love this amazing group of 250 precious souls. In the job I found my calling, purpose and gifting as a pastor. I understood a little more my role as a catalyst to launch new things in the world. Watertown treated us like family and our family grew under their care. We will miss “the town of many diners” and these precious people at 525 Main St. more than anyone can imagine.
When I was 14 years old I had this epiphanic moment where I just knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve been making videos and doing fun creative stuff with my buddies ever since, including a degree in communications. Being a part of the creative and teaching teams at Grace was an important step in understanding where I contribute the best. I have had so much fun directing, producing, writing and editing videos and media as a part of my role at Grace that I want to continue to find ways to use creativity to tell stories that impact people.
What an amazing group of dedicated, smart, hardworking, caring colleagues, mentors, pastors and leaders. There is not a better situation for a young pastor than having a chance to lead a congregation, being a part of a large staff team and mentored by seasoned pastors that care about you as a person and a leader. Grace has a culture of personal development that has been vital. All the new things I had never done: funerals, baptisms, baby dedications and difficult pastoral situations, I was not alone. I had an amazing set of bosses in Richard Rhodes, Bill Burke and Bryan Wilkerson. The things I have learned from them will forever shape the ways that I lead and pastor and develop others.
There are too many amazing people that love God, love the world and are doing amazing things to bring healing, hope and joy to a hurting and broken world. More ministries than I can name or count have been birthed by the people and support of Grace Chapel. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of such an amazing congregation that plays an incredible role in kingdom impact in New England and around the world.
There is so much more to say, but nothing more than if I can be a part of planting a church that has 1/10th the impact that Grace Chapel has, my life will be an amazing testament to God’s grace.
If you follow my blog you saw a flurry of posts at the start of the year as a part of a New Year’s hustle, but they slowed down to a trickle at the end of January. Here is what has been taking up so much of my mind space the last several months.
Malia and I have been in Massachusetts for almost 6 years. We spent three years finishing my masters at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and helping launch ministries on high school and middle school campuses with Cru. Malia has invested the last 6 years serving at Boston Medical Center’s ENT clinic, and volunteering with Cru. For the last 3 years together we have led a team of incredible people to launch Grace Chapel’s 3rd campus in Watertown, MA just 2 miles outside Boston.
It has been an amazing time of growth and hustle, of sacrifice and maturing, of learning and healing.
But, we have sensed that God was leading us toward a new role in a new place, planting more churches. It has been quite a process discerning God’s will with some close mentors and friends over the last year. With great excitement and a lot of sadness for the people and places we are leaving behind, we move forward by faith, trusting that God has some good plans for us and for Grace Chapel.
We think that God is leading us to plant churches. He has uniquely made us to start things, and to reach out to unchurched people. God has given us His heart for the lost, to care for and reach out to those that are far from God. And as we have prayed and searched, we just can’t shake this burden God has given us to reach out to people in the pacific northwest, to go back to our home in Boise, Idaho and be a part of a movement of gospel centered churches that plant other churches across the northwest, one of the least churched regions of the country.
When we came to Massachusetts, we were pretty beat up spiritually. We had some rough experiences with church and we weren’t sure that we wanted to be a part of a church, let alone lead one. But God, in His great mercy, brought us to Grace Chapel, where we found a gospel-centered church that was relationally healthy with a great culture. And God not only got us involved, but got us to volunteer, to join staff and even lead a campus. We have loved every minute of Grace Chapel. It has become our church home, and we want to take the great stuff that we have learned here and bring it with us in our church planting.
Man, so much sadness and excitement all at once.
We are looking at moving towards the end of the summer (late August/early September), and at that point starting to assemble a launch team that will help us reach out in the city where God plants us.
More details to come as we figure them out, but wanted to let you in on this big news that has been brewing for a long time.
We would appreciate your prayers for this time of transition, for the leaders that will take over at Grace Chapel Watertown, for our baby due in a couple of weeks, and for smooth sailing on the move/transition.
I’ll ask for money later, today is just news. Enjoy it while it lasts😉
-Robert and Malia
Update: Baby was born last Saturday, Theodore Charles. He and mom are doing great. Follow on Facebook for pics. Click here if you’d like to get regular prayer updates via email.